Companion News for week of September 30

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Veterinarians warn pet owners about dangers of vaping for pets

Wisconsin veterinarians are warning pet owners about the dangers of vaping for animals, Channel 3000 reports. Doctors examined a dog at a Middleton, Wisconsin, clinic after it ate a marijuana vape device. “It seemed like a very typical marijuana ingestion. The dog seemed pretty severely affected,” said Tristan Daugherty-Leiter, an emergency veterinarian at the clinic. Veterinarians say little research is available on how vaping affects small animals, making it difficult to predict side effects. Daugherty-Leiter said the side effects pets might experience in a toxic overdose are tremors, salivation, diarrhea, high heart rates, cardiac arrhythmias, seizures and death. “The concern and the problem is that with any of these vaping liquids, the concentration is just an absolute mystery,” said Daugherty-Leiter, adding that “you have no idea how much they got, you have no idea in terms of what the dose the dog may have gotten, how long this might last.” Another veterinarian warned that vaping chemicals and oils in the air could also affect pets. Even if vaping is banned, veterinarians predict they’ll keep seeing toxic ingestion.

World Animal Day: 12 ways to get involved and 5 facts you didn’t know

This Friday, October 4, is World Animal Day, a day aimed at uniting people around the world involved in animal welfare. Today’s Veterinary Practice (also published by NAVC) here gives 12 suggestions for veterinary professionals to get involved. For example, practices can hold World Animal Day events, offer free or discounted services, or start a pet foster care program. There are also organizations to support for the welfare of larger animals like whales, sharks, polar bears and sea turtles. Today’s Veterinary Nurse, meanwhile, published “5 Facts You Didn’t Know” about World Animal Day. The first World Animal Day took place March 24, 1925, in Berlin, Germany. More than 5,000 people attended the first event, founded by writer and animal activist Heinrich Zimmerman, author of “Mensch und Hund” (“Man and Dog”).

FDA issues draft guidance on eligibility criteria for expanded conditional approval of new animal drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued draft guidance to assist animal drug sponsors and potential sponsors who are interested in pursuing conditional approval to market animal drugs that address serious conditions, and for which demonstrating effectiveness would require complex or particularly difficult study. Until recently, only drugs intended for minor uses or species were eligible for conditional approval. But in 2018, Congress expanded the FDA’s authority to grant conditional approval to include certain animal drugs for use in major species or cases. “Expanded conditional approval has the potential to incentivize drug development and provide veterinarians with legally marketed new animal drugs to treat serious or life-threatening diseases,” according to the FDA’s announcement. The agency seeks comments on the draft guidance by January 28, 2020.

Kindred Biosciences launches new veterinary resource website

Pet biopharmaceutical company Kindred Biosciences announced the launch of KINections, an educational website for veterinarians, practice staff, veterinary students and pet owners. The website includes educational resources for veterinarians on topics like feline anemia and equine metabolic syndrome; resources for pet owners like videos and brochures on diseases that may affect cats, dogs and horses; and information for students, including more details on the company’s Veterinary Student Outreach Program. KindredBio plans to expand KINections to host continuing education modules for veterinary professionals. “KINections gives veterinarians access to educational information on disease states for feline, canine, and equine topics related to our business,” said Dr. Valentine Williams, director of veterinary affairs at KindredBio. “Veterinarians can feel confident directing pet owners to a library of trustworthy information and help them get involved with their pet’s health.”

Biotech for pets is growing, with potential for big profits

Animal health companies around the world are developing new treatments previously only available to humans. Biotech drug production and genetic testing costs have fallen in recent years, making biotechnology for pets financially viable, experts said. According to big players like Zoetis, animal drug development is faster, less expensive and more predictable than development of drugs for people. “It’s not nearly as common for pivotal studies to fail in animal health as it is in human medicine. Most of them are successful,” said Cheryl London, a Tufts University professor. According to Reuters, “Biotech drugs for pets, if proven safe and effective, would be a boon to a $44 billion veterinary medicines market currently dominated by vaccines, flea and tick repellents and anti-infectives.” One recent example of this trend is Zoetis’ Cytopoint for canine itch relief. Cytopoint launched in late 2016, generated 2018 sales of $129 million, and first-quarter 2019 sales increased 65% from a year earlier. Produced from cloned genetically engineered hamster cells over at least eight bioprocessing steps, the monoclonal antibody is no less complex than comparable therapeutic proteins used in human medicine, but it costs consumers much less. While Zoetis didn’t disclose its prices, an animal hospital in Connecticut charges $104 for a Cytopoint injection for a 40-pound dog. These injections can last four to eight weeks. The cost of a highly effective new anti-itch biotech drug to treat severe atopic dermatitis in humans can run about $30,000 a year.

Dog aging study will seek 10,000 participants beginning in November

The Dog Aging Project, a study investigating healthy aging in canines, seeks to enroll 10,000 dogs through a nomination process that begins in mid-November. The study, funded by the National Institute on Aging, aims to identify the genetic and environmental factors that influence healthy aging. A small number of the dogs who participate will be chosen for a clinical trial of rapamycin, an immunomodulatory agent and cancer chemotherapeutic used in human medicine. Low doses of the drug have been shown to extend the lives of mice, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. “Many of our canine patients are geriatric with multiple diseases, and there’s not a ton of data to guide us on things like preserving mobility and cognition or how to help a dog who is losing muscle strength or has a declining appetite,” said Dr. Kate Creevy, a Texas A&M professor and a founder of the Dog Aging Project. Owners will be able to report their observations about their dog’s health and behavior during the study, and data generated will be made public as an open science project, allowing for more research by other scientists around the world. Dog owners will be able to nominate their dogs online when the website goes live in November.

India-based Alivira Animal Health hires leader for U.S. operations

Alivira Animal Health, an India-based producer of products including antibiotics, feed supplements and active pharmaceutical ingredients, announced that it has appointed Alan Kelly as vice president for its U.S. business operations. The United States is the firm’s key international market, according to Alivira, which says it’s India’s first and largest global integrated animal health company. Kelly is a certified public accountant who worked with veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturer Bimeda for more than 25 years. According to Alivira, Kelly’s appointment will be important as it prepares for its first formulation filing in the United States. “I am very excited to join Alivira and contribute to the global and entrepreneurial culture of the company,” Kelly said. “I look forward to working with our existing customers as well as introducing Alivira Animal Health to new customers.”

Boehringer Ingelheim donates rabies vaccines to Puerto Rico

Boehringer Ingelheim announced it plans to donate 60,000 doses of its Imrab rabies vaccine for dogs to Puerto Rico over the next three years. The announcement came shortly before World Rabies Day on September 28. This effort is part of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Shots for Good initiative to vaccinate dogs around the world. Dog bites account for more than 99% of transmission from animals to people, according to data cited by the company. Boehringer Ingelheim will spread the donations to Puerto Rico over three years in conjunction with events planned by the Spayathon for Puerto Rico, a coalition of about two dozen groups organized by the Humane Society of the United States. Groups participating in the Spayathon events will administer the donated rabies vaccines. The nonprofit Veterinarians for Puerto Rico will use donated vaccines for animals in rural parts of the island. Boehringer Ingelheim also said it will donate “tens of thousands” of dollars to the nonprofit to help cover the costs of providing proof of rabies vaccinations for animal shelters and underserved communities.

European Commission grants marketing authorization for Zoetis canine antiparasitic

Zoetis announced the European Commission has granted marketing authorization for Simparica Trio (sarolaner/moxidectin/pyrantel) chewable tablets, a once-monthly antiparasitic medication for dogs with, or at risk from, mixed external and internal parasitic infections. This follows a positive opinion adopted in July by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use. The key ingredients in Simparica Trio are sarolaner, which is active against fleas and ticks; moxidectin, which combats heartworm, lungworm and some intestinal worms; and pyrantel embonate, used against gastrointestinal nematodes (hookworms and roundworms). The global canine parasiticides market is more than $4 billion, and it’s the largest therapeutic category in medicines for dogs, according to Zoetis. Simparica Trio is indicated for dogs from at least eight weeks of age and 1.25 kilograms of body weight (about 2.8 pounds). Zoetis expects to launch it in the European Union in the first quarter of 2020, and chewable tablets will be available in six tablet strengths for dogs of all sizes, according to the announcement.